Williams Canyon - Manitou Springs, Colorado

Williams Canyon - A Hidden Gem In Manitou Springs Williams Canyon, Colorado

Williams Canyon is a beautfiul area to the north of Manitou Springs. It is considered an easy hike that leads to a waterfall and punch bowl with grand views of the canyon's sides. It feels isolated in Williams Canyon, and yet one is so close to the big city of Colorado Springs.

Above is a photo of myself at the main overlook. It's the point in the trail where I was slightly above the waterfall, with a spectacular view of the canyon. On this particular hike, we continued past the waterfall and took a spur trail to the west that climbed up a gulch and led to the Waldo Canyon Loop Trail. You can see those photos here.

Directions: From the center of Manitou Springs, walk up Canon Avenue. Cross under the U.S. Highway 24 bridge and continue. At the beginning, the old Cave of the Winds Road -- much of it washed out from past floods -- ascends into the canyon. There is some sensitivity that hikers should have, for the beginning section is on private property, and there may be no tresspassing signs and/or warnings that waive their potential liability if you continue. Please be respectful of this scenic area and leave it better than the way it was.

Photos and commentary by Steve Garufi. Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - Google Plus

Williams Canyon Waterfall and Punch Bowl
Refer to your topographical map, but my rough guess is it's an approximate 1.5 mile hike to reach the waterfall from the highway bridge.
Below are two photos of the waterfall and punch bowl.
Williams Canyon Waterfall
I've found it tricky to capture a good picture of the waterfall. One can hike on the creek bed and stand at the base of it, but there is too many trees and shrubbery blocking it. This photo was taken on the trail as it climbed on the right side of the canyon.
Williams Canyon Punch Bowl
Above the tall waterfall is a smaller waterfall with a punch bowl. My friend Anne sat above.

More Photos
Williams Canyon Manitou Springs
2002 Photos - The canyon is narrow upon entering from Canon Avenue.
Cave of the Winds
The large Cave of the Winds buildings to the left.
Williams Canyon Colorado
From that waterfall, a nice view of the canyon.
Williams Canyon Manitou Springs
A rock wall on the east side of the canyon.
Williams Canyon Hike
While many hikers tend to visit the waterfall and overlook, and then return, the trail continues for more miles. Williams Canyon reaches all the way to Rampart Range Road. Far into the canyon, I snapped this photo that shows the canyon (right center) with mountains afar. That's Pikes Peak on the far right.
Cameron Cone & Almagre Mountain
A close-up photo of Cameron Cone and Almagre Mountain. Happy trails!

Cave of the Winds and Williams Canyon History
Cave of the Winds Then & Now
June 2012 - I was sitting in the living room of Colorado historian Jeff Christlieb when I noticed an attractive book about Cave of the Winds. My first impression was that this might be a "typical book for tourists", but it is so much more. The authors Norman Thompson and Richard Rhinehart discuss, in excellent detail, the caves, road and wonderful scenery of Williams Canyon in photos and text. Titled Cave of the Winds Then & Now, the book was so engaging that I spent two hours reading through it. I wholeheartedly endorse this book and you can buy it at Amazon.

Below are four photos of photos in this book that show the scenery from today and the early 20th Century.

Williams Canyon Colorado
The Cave of the Winds one-way entrance at the mouth of the canyon.
Narrows Williams Canyon
An early 20th Century car drives through the narrows section.
Temple of Isis
The book details some of the arches, including the Temple of Isis on the east side of the canyon. Amazing! With all my hikes in the canyon, I've never seen this in person. It is unclear what's the best way to hike to the arch -- whether by hiking steeply from inside the canyon or approaching from above -- but I need to return to photograph this myself.
Williams Canyon Colorado
Uphill from the main switchback of the wagon trail that traveled to Cave of the Winds. This was presumably before cars were the norm in the early 20th Century.

Again, I can't emphasize this enough: If you are a fan of Cave of the Winds, an appreciator of Williams Canyon, or an overall Manitou Springs history buff, then Cave of the Winds Then & Now needs to be in your book collection. You can buy it on Amazon or pick it up at the Cave of the Winds gift shop.

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